Visit the lovely lake created thousands of years ago after glaciers carved ridges, peaks and valleys in Montana’s Rocky Mountains.
The sprawling blue jewel of Flathead Lake with nearly 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) of surface area and more than 160 miles (260 kilometers) of shoreline is the largest natural freshwater lake in the contiguous U.S. west of the Mississippi River. Explore the strikingly beautiful views and recreational opportunities of these vast waters.
Approach the lake on either of two scenic highway routes. On the west see panoramic lake views from lookouts over the crystal clear lake below the towering peaks of the Mission and Swan ranges. The slow winding route along the eastern shoreline offers breathtaking sunset vistas over the lake. In late July stop at roadside stands to sample the fresh crop from the cherry orchards lining the road.
On the lake itself, public beaches and state parks offer access to pebble and sand beaches for watersports enjoyment. The clear waters are perfect for swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and boating. From Dayton Harbor on the western shore, rent a boat and motor to Wild Horse Island State Park for fabulous hiking and wildlife viewing. Look for the herd of wild horses that still inhabit the island.
The consistent breeze and sheltered bays on Flathead Lake make it a sailor’s paradise. Alternatively, rent a powerboat and water skis. Find charters and watercraft rentals at marinas in the villages of Polson, Bigfork, Lakeside, Somers and Dayton. After your day on the water, visit the quaint shops, restaurants and breweries in these small towns.
Fish in the deep waters abundant with lake trout. Bring your gear to look for 50-pound (23-kilogram) lake trout. The sheltered bays offer ice-fishing opportunities when winter weather conditions are right for a thick freeze.
Observe patriotic parades and firework displays in villages around the lakes for Independence Day. Participate in or watch the Montana Dragon Boat Festival on Flathead Lake in September.
Fly into Kalispell’s Glacier Park International Airport and rent a car to enjoy the beauty and pleasures of Flathead Lake.